Brazil’s Controversial Sinking of Decommissioned Aircraft Carrier Sparks Outrage
The Brazilian Navy sank a retired aircraft carrier in the Atlantic Ocean, despite environmental concerns about the potential for pollution of the sea and the impact on the marine food chain. The Sao Paulo, a 32,000-tonne ship that was built in France in the 1960s, had been floating off the coast for three months after Turkey denied it entry due to environmental hazards. According to a statement from the Navy, the sinking was performed in a controlled manner to avoid potential losses to the Brazilian state.
According to information gathered from Reuters, federal prosecutors and Greenpeace protested the sinking, claiming that the ship was “toxic” due to the presence of hazardous materials, including 9 Tonnes of asbestos. Greenpeace criticized the Navy for neglecting ocean protection and accused the sinking of violating multiple international agreements, including the Basel Convention and the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants.
The Clemenceau-class carrier had served in the French Navy for 40 years as the Foch and was capable of carrying 40 warplanes. The Brazilian Navy acquired the carrier for $12 million in 1998, but an $80 million refit was never completed. After being decommissioned, the hull was bought by a Turkish marine recycling company for $10.5 million but was later towed back to Brazil after Turkey barred entry. The company argued that the ship’s disposal was the Brazilian state’s responsibility.
Greenpeace claimed that the Brazilian Navy chose to harm the environment and waste millions of dollars instead of allowing public inspection of the ship, which it described as the most serious violation of any chemical and waste agreement ever committed by a country.